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Evan Jacobs’ first love was the voice of a girl he’d never met. Thousands of dollars and hours of therapy later, he’s still coming to terms with his phone-sex addiction.
To say I have an addictive personality is to say that Buddha was kind of laid back. If I enjoy it, I will get addicted to it. Drugs? I’ve been addicted to several. Alcohol? Sure. Video games? Check. Television? Oh yeah. Food? Just look at me. Attention? In the throes of it right now. But one of these addictions started off as something much more innocent. Well, as innocent as phone sex can be.
Ninth grade. My hormones controlled every thought I had, every move I made. I would make marks on my school schedule showing which girls were in which classes so I would know whom to stare at the entire time. I didn’t care if they knew I was staring. If we made eye contact, we might as well have made genital contact. If we made eye contact a second time, she liked me. (More likely, she wondered why the hell I was so creepy.)
When I got home in the evenings, I masturbated to the girls I’d seen that day. What they had been wearing, whether they had talked to me, and other little details all went into a spank bank I built up throughout the day.
But I had never kissed a girl. No Spin the Bottle, no “doctor,” no Seven Minutes in Heaven. As far back as I could remember, I had never even kissed my mother.
Back before there was Web 2.0, OKCupid, Facebook, MySpace, streaming pornography, or even .pdf files, there were the three kings of the “information superhighway”: AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy. Then there was me, in 1996, 14 years old, a social outcast without much chance at interaction with living, breathing women—or anyone, really.
Opening the program in DOS took several minutes. Connecting to Prodigy took several minutes more and was accompanied by the shrieking sound of a dialing modem. Fifteen minutes later, I was talking with real, live people—or, rather, a series of screen names—in a chat room. It felt like I was at my first party.
Your all stupid.
YOU SPELLED “YOU’RE” WRONG, STUPID.
STOP TALKING IN CAPS.
Where are all the girls?
After a pause: I’m a girl.
Quick responses: A/S/L? Wanna private chat? What do you look like?
Everyone in the chat room was a moron or a pervert, and I was free to be the same. My passive observation gave way to benign, then bold, then incendiary comments: Listen to yourselves. You’re all just a bunch of losers sitting at your computers on a Friday night, like me. None of you have lives.
I picked out people and said why they in particular were idiots. Hey, mudbutt69, your grammar and spelling make me question our public school system. Racism and sexism were rampant in the chats. I tried to fight it. These assholes didn’t respond to reason, but they did respond to my having a comeback to anything they said. And before long, I found I had a knack for dominating the conversation.
I spat out clever comments like sunflower seeds. I started intense discussions like it was destiny. I was a brash and fearless contributor to the discourse of anonymous 14-year-old outcasts. Back at school, things remained largely the same. But when I got home and logged on, I was a rock star.
I don’t remember when I was first introduced to the concept of cyber sex, but I thought it was disgusting. That was for losers who couldn’t get laid.
Losers like me.
But I wasn’t ready for cyber sex. Christ, I had just learned how to be social. One has to take things slowly. I felt pure, I felt clean. I was a good boy. No matter that I patrolled premium cable channels for R-rated movies, stalked the Internet for pictures of attractive, half-naked celebs, and downloaded page after page of erotic fiction, skipping to the pornographic play-by-plays and masturbating furiously.
My resistance to the idea wasn’t getting me any closer to kissing—or even knowing how to talk to—a girl in real life. And gradually the appeal of cyber sex—and my hormones, which bubbled like a cauldron of poison when I thought about it—overcame my high standards. It couldn’t hurt to give it a shot, could it?
I thought of all the girls I was attracted to at school. I thought of them being kissed and groped by a group of guys that had swooped down upon the school at the onset of ninth grade. I saw them moving forward, and me moving backward.
And so I logged on.
One of those nights, toward the middle of the year, I got the nerve to private-chat a girl.
Hi, I’m 14/m/PA. What’s up?
Do you wanna chat?
Cool. So what do you look like?
Blonde hair blue eyes. (Wow, I thought, she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.)
How tall are you?
OK. How much do you weigh?
OK. You sound cute.
Thanks. What do you look like?
5’10” green eyes dirty blonde hair 165 muscular/athletic.
Cool. So what do you wanna talk about?
What a painful question. It often underlined the awkwardness that was inherent in online conversation. But it had its benefits, especially when it paved the way for questions about sex.
But God, how was I supposed to get into sex? How does one segue a polite conversation into dirty talk? I had no idea, but I was hornier than a triceratops and dammit, I had nothing to lose.
What are you wearing?
She had answered the questions without leaving, and hey, she was already half undressed. So I had to ask. I didn’t know exactly how to, nor did I know what I’d do if she agreed, but it just came out.
Are you horny?
Holy shit. This is it. Frozen in my seat, I typed, Do you wanna start?
There was a long pause. The awkwardness was so palpable I could’ve stuck a spoon in it. What kind of charisma was this? It was so obvious that I’d never communicated anything sexual, ever. But maybe she hadn’t either.
She asked, What would you do to me?
I would kiss you all over, I answered.
Strangely, I never touched myself while we talked. I feigned it, actually. Cheesy, I know, but I was scared of doing something so sexual without any meaning behind it. Shouldn’t I be cybering with a girl I love? But as soon as she logged off, I ran to my bedroom and finished what I’d started.
Over the next six months, through the summer and into 10th grade, I became a cybering master. I had multiple windows open, cybering with different girls at the same time. When the night got late enough, I eventually began to go through with the things I was telling girls I was doing.
And then I began to hit a wall. It got boring—worthless, even. The girls could have been anyone—and, often, would reveal themselves to be groups of kids fucking around with losers like me. I couldn’t even be mad. I’d done the same before.
But one night, in November 1996, I started chatting with a girl named Helen. She was eloquent, had an enormous personality, and eventually put up with me for so long—two hours at a time—that I asked if I could call her. She lived only an hour away, in Princeton, New Jersey, and wasn’t allowed to make long-distance calls. I was. So without hesitating, I ran downstairs, grabbed the cordless phone, brought it into my room, and dialed.
Helen was my age, 15. She had a sultry voice with an attitude to match. She was a dark-haired Greek girl, an avid painter, an amateur astrologist, and spiritual. I frowned upon this kind of stuff, but with Helen, it didn’t matter. Her differences from me made it so we could talk for hours about any given subject. In fact, on the first night we talked, we talked for six hours on the phone.
It was around 4 a.m. when the subject of sex came up.
“You’ve never had phone sex before?” she asked.
“No,” I said, already incredibly aroused.
“Well, are you hard?”
And it went on from there.
Compared to cyber sex, phone sex was a revelation. It was so much more intimate than the cold, black letters on the screen. You could hear the other person’s voice. You could hear them breathe heavily or moan softly—and you knew they could hear you, too. It was the next best thing to being in a room together. A room where you both listened to each other masturbate.
I began speaking to Helen every single night, for hours at a time. We would talk for a while, then have phone sex. But it was deeper than that. I thought about her when I was in school. I obsessed over her.
At some point, I told her I loved her and she said she loved me back. It might have been a month into it, or it might have been that first night. At the time, I confused love and infatuation, and these days, who knows what would have happened? But I did love her. She was my first love. Rather, her voice was.
We sent letters to each other too. I remember when she first sent hers. She had included a picture and sprayed the letter with perfume and had kissed the letter itself, telling me that I should imagine those lips on my cock. And did I ever. Helen was beautiful, very Mediterranean-looking. She had curly dark hair, full lips that seemed to pout past her lip flesh, and a chin that had a straight, flat bottom.
Weeks went by. We would speak every night until one of us began to pass out. Sometimes we would both pass out, phones in hand, the line staying on, recording our deep breathing.
Even though we lived so close together, neither of us told our parents about the other. We had no way to meet. Neither of us drove yet. We might as well have been in different galaxies.
That is, of course, until December’s phone bill came.
My mother was driving me back home from school when she asked, “Evan, why is this month’s phone bill 900 dollars?”
That is literally all I can remember from that discussion. I broke down almost immediately. For the 20 minutes it took for my mom to drive me home, with tears streaming down my face and my diaphragm convulsing, I told my mother everything about my talking with Helen. Of course, I never mentioned the phone sex aspect of it, because it was more than that: it was love.
The thing is, while I was carrying on and crying, my mother was trying to calm me down. She didn’t know how to react. On one hand, she was very upset that I had spent so much money, and said she was going to put a password-activated block on the long-distance line, much to my vehement protest.
On the other hand, she was happy that I was talking to a girl of any sort. So half of the conversation was spent with me telling her about Helen; the other half was spent apologizing and asking what she wanted me to do.
It was simple. All I had to do was get a job and pay the money back. A few days later, I started working part-time at McDonalds.
It didn’t take that long to make back the $900, and so I quit after a couple months of hoarding Big Macs and putting up with being called stupid. In the meantime, Helen was no longer a secret. I had to punch in a long-distance code to talk to her, so our conversations were shorter. We didn’t have phone sex at all. But by the time summer came around, my parents agreed that I could go out and meet her for the first time.
We met at the Cherry Hill mall. I brought my friend Todd, who was the only one who knew about Helen, and she brought her cousin, Crystal. At first, things were incredibly awkward, but then Helen and I kind of hit it off. We talked, we had fun, she made me buy a pair of pants that flared out at the bottom, which I would never wear again because they looked so stupid.
The interesting this was this: we didn’t kiss. We hugged, I think. After weeks and weeks of describing how we wanted to exchange bodily fluids and telling each other exactly when we were having orgasms, meeting her came with so much built-up pressure, nothing happened.
My no-kissing streak went unbroken until early in the next school year, when I set my sights on Violetta, a profoundly promiscuous Spanish exchange student. Being an excitable idiot, I told Helen, who still loved me. This was probably not the best idea. Or perhaps it was. She became very jealous and concerned, and then seemed determined to meet me again.
Finally, on what was to be the last time we would meet in a romantic setting, I took Helen to the sophomore dance. She wore a dark dress, dark eyeliner, and dark lipstick—my friend Matt gave her the nickname “Princess Nightshade”—and, at the end of the night, kissed me. We clumsily groped each other. It was one of the most unsatisfying romantic experiences I’ve ever had. Neither of us had an orgasm. There was so much built up. We were just too young to express it all.
Shortly after, Helen ended up having sex with a friend of hers. She told me about it, of course, over the phone. That was basically the end of the relationship. I was devastated. I cried for hours and ended up staying up late, my mother holding me while we watched Grosse Pointe Blank.
Despite the heartache, I knew something had changed. This saga of virtual sex had transformed me from a horny 14-year-old boy to a horny 15-year-old man. The floodgates opened then. I kissed a few girls. Then we weren’t just kissing. Eventually, I lost my virginity to a real girl, someone I genuinely loved.
My phone-sex addiction didn’t end here. In college, I spent so much of my parents’ money on phone-sex lines that they sent me to a psychiatrist. Around that time, Helen and I reconnected. We’ve now become friends. She married and hopes to have children soon. She’s still living in Princeton, still painting and reading her horoscopes.
Out of all the addictions I’ve had in my adult life, she truly was my first, my worst, and my favorite.
Reprinted from The Good Men Project